A Remote Control With New Batteries

The Word of God tells us in countless places that we are to live with a view toward everlasting consequences. God tells us that our motivation in this should be hunger for blessing from Him.

The moralistic philosopher Kant tried to teach us that a deed is not really moral unless it is done from a sense of raw duty, with no thought of reward. Unfortunately, this false teaching has permeated the so-called conservative wing of the Church. A better name for this attitude might be neo-Stoic. Afraid of pleasure, afraid of joy, afraid of glory, afraid of reward, such unfortunates are ultimately afraid of their Bibles.

Of course they justify their attitude by the pervasive worldliness in the other sectors of Church, and they are actually quite right about this. Great portions of the modern Church are driven by thoughts of reward, as all creatures actually must be, but their sin is that they have settled for paltry rewards—the praise of men, the comforts of mammon, and the flattery that only a full belly and a remote control with new batteries can provide.

So what must we do?—we must seek the blessing of God. At His right hand is an everlasting river of pleasure. Do we seek His blessing in some hyper-spiritual fashion, showing contempt for earthly blessings? Not a bit of it—we despise worldliness, not the world. The world is not our master, but when we listen rightly to our master, our God in heaven, that same world is converted to our use and made a faithful servant. This is the word of God—but always beware of subtleties.

An Unholy Hat Trick

“When men cease to aspire to the ideal, the good, to self-restraint — whether in their arts or their lives — they do not just stand still, but actually turn the other way, finding self-fulfillment in self-indulgence, and in an obsession with those three ultimate expressions of the totally self-centred life: sex, violence and insanity” (Duncan Williams, Trousered Apes, pp. 14-15).

Embodied Education

“But one of the glories of education is the opportunity to hear the truth come out of a human being with blood in the veins and air in the lungs, and not just off a printed page” (The Case for Classical Christian Education, p. 198).

Instead of “A Life for an Eye, A Life for a Tooth”

“As a matter of fact, the imitation involved in revenge tends toward more violence, for it tends to repay the violence it avenges ‘with interest.’ It tends to escalate the violence. The ancient injunction, ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,’ was an attempt to keep revenge from spinning out of control” (Gil Bailie, Violence Unveiled, p. 93).

Lord”s Day Prayer 79

Gracious God and Father of Jesus, we thank You for the arrival of yet another Sabbath. Thank You for the gift of worship tomorrow morning, and for the gift of preparation for that worship now in this meal together. We thank You that the food represents countless hours of human labor and diligence, up to and including the final preparations in the kitchen. We thank You for all the hands that have touched our food from the beginning to the end—planting, tending, harvesting, storing, transporting, processing, stocking, purchasing, and cooking. We thank You for how You have entwined our lives together in this, and we thank You in the name of Jesus our Lord, and amen.

Lenny Bruce Tags It

One of our local adversaries, Nick Gier, had a letter in the paper last night entitled “‘Intolerista,’ and proud of it.” He was referencing a recent article in the Spokane paper, which was, despite Nick’s praise, a fairly decent article. There were some mistakes in it, and of course, Nick seized on those mistakes as precious jewels to be gathered, assembled, and displayed for others. A true modern college professor, he dims the diamonds and polishes the pebbles.

“Doug Wilson, pastor of Moscow’s Christ Church and NSA founder, confessed that he was a ‘Paleo-Confederate,’ just after NSA President Roy Atwood said that any connection between his college and the neo-Confederates was laughably stupid.’”

Well, ya know, this is not a recent thing. I used that phrase — paleo-Confederate – in my talk on R.L. Dabney at the 2003 history conference. Defined it and everything too. Definitions? Bah. “The distinction Wilson tries to draw between neo- and paleo-confederate is one without a difference.” Gier says, ex cathedra, that this is a distinction without a difference. But before I explain the difference again, let me point out the real problem with what Gier is doing here. Even if my politics were exactly what Gier describes, it does not follow from this that NSA would be thereby contaminated by my intellectual cooties. Does the UI share all Gier’s opinions? Let us hope not.

That said, in my talk on Dabney, I made it very clear what I was and was not saying. I then anticipated just the trouble we now find ourselves in again, and I offered a remedy.

But this brings us to the bad news again, at least for our protesters. In order to find out what paleo-Confederate means, you might have to read a book or something. I suggest beginning with Christianity and Culture by T.S. Eliot. But before checking it out, you do have to be assured of one thing—checking it out is most necessary. All the natural conclusions to which moderns are tempted to leap on such matters are almost entirely wrong. We are talking about things concerning which modern education has left you woefully unprepared—and it shows (Black & Tan, p. 80).

And it still shows. I talked about this problem elsewhere in the book as well.

In this last category was the accusation that I am a neo-Confederate. This is close in one way, but at the same time not at all accurate. The tag neo-Confederate conjures up images of a handful of disillusioned yahoos setting up a tiny republic in a trailer park east of Houston somewhere. But it must be admitted that a more accurate name would require explanation as well. This is because I am not a neo-Confederate; I am a paleo-Confederate. And with this acknowledgement comes my need for a phrase like “regenerate but unreconstructed” (p. 15).

But I use the phrase paleo-Confederate anyway, for the honest reader will be honest enough to wonder what such a phrase could mean, and perhaps be curious enough to read a small essay on it. At the same time, it is important to emphasize that with the phrase paleo-Confederate, I do not wish to limit my historical allegiances to anything so provincially American, and so I would also want to identify myself as a paleo-medieval, a paleo-conservative, a paleo-Constantinian, a paleo-Puritan, a paleo-Chestertonian, and a paleo-spear Dane (p. 15)

Nick also said he appreciated my confession that Robert E. Lee’s portrait, etc. have been displayed “in church and school functions.” But alas, I said nothing of the kind. The reporter and I did not talk about that. Nick also said, “A visiting pastor wrote a letter to this paper testifying to the presence of the Confederate flag in Wilson’s office.” In a weird intersection of controversies, that would have been Joe Morecraft, who decided to join in our melee with the radical leftists here a few years ago . . . on the other side, unfortunately. But despite his poor sense of direction, Joe was right about one thing. I have had such things in my office. Don’t have the keyboard dustcover any more, but I still have pictures of John Knox, Stonewall Jackson, and a page from an original Tyndale Bible. I have a picture of Jeb Stuart stored somewhere, and a couple frames of medieval music. Got a couple bullets somewhere too — one Yankee and one Reb. But if you really need an office with a rebel flag in it, try the secretary of agriculture in Mississippi. They have flags like this all over the place there. Might even have them flying (in principle) over the philosophy department at Ole Miss.

Gier goes on. “I always chuckle when Wilson and Atwood described me as from the ‘extreme left’ (actually I’m just left of center) . . .” Well, this is a remarkable coincidence. I myself am just right of center. In fact, I am so exactly in the middle of the road that extremists are always to my right and left. In fact, since Nick and I are both so close to the center, I marvel at all the ongoing dissension.

Gier continues, building to a crescendo:

I also proudly call myself “Intolerista,” a name that Wilson and Co. give to those who dare cricitize them. Intolerance is a virtue when one is intolerant of dishonesty, bigotry, discrimination, ugly behavior, and bad manners.

Actually, the name intolerista is not for those who criticize us. The Bible criticizes us all the time. So do our friends. The name intolerista goes on those who express their dissent and criticism in a certain way. The problem with the intolerista is not the disapproval. The problem is the serene and utterly rootless aura of self-righteousness. As Lenny Bruce so wonderfully put it, in his definition of liberals, we are talking here about people “who can understand everything but people who don’t understand them.”

Without A Bucket

I am currently reading three new books by Peter Leithart — the commentary on Kings, the book on Second Peter, which are both outstanding, and the book Deep Comedy, which promises to be the really fabulous one. I am not very far into them yet, but am certainly far enough in to see that Peter is currently at the top of his game. And this relates to another important announcement. At a recent meeting of our trustees, it was decided to have NSA proceed with the establishment (in the fall of 07) of a graduate program. The first degree offered will be a Master of Arts in Trinitarian Theology and Culture. You can read more about it here. Dr. Leithart will be serving as the dean of graduate studies, and will be one of the principal instructors. I would urge at least some of you to get an application now because as the Leithartian river flows by, you don’t want to be found standing around without a bucket.

We Love Them All

Our God is truly good. The only attitude that does not see Him that way is unbelief—the twisted view that there could be another source of good, an alternative take on it, another way.

But only God is good. This means that anyone who would be good also must come to Him on His terms. His Word defines what is good; His holy arm establishes what is good; His righteousness extends to all generations.

Because God is good, the table He prepares for us is good. He has led us here, and He has prepared this table in the presence of our enemies. They are enemies, fundamentally, because they insist on another source for goodness. Whether it is man and his word, or nature and its law, or the pandemonium of postmodernism, our enemies are what they are because they hate the Word, they hate the water, they hate the bread, and they hate the wine. We love them all.

This world belongs to God; He could have assigned different sacraments, and there was a time in the older covenant when the sacraments did have another appearance. But the voice of our God, the voice of all that is good, is always recognizable in whatever He is saying. Today, He is speaking here. He is saying, “Come to me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” God is good.

Never allow yourself to think that this table is all about your goodness. No, it is set in the name of the goodness of God. You are to come frail, and leave strengthened. You come repentant, and leave encouraged. You come sick, and leave healthy. It is not the other way around.

Are you unworthy? Then confess it, and come. Are you unworthy? Then you qualify! How good is God! He has set this table here, today, for you—a table for the unworthy.